SLJ Summit 2020 Features Tommy Orange, James McBride and Sessions for This Challenging Time

Keynote addresses by James McBride, Tommy Orange, and Ijeoma Oluo, and sessions on reimagining school, next steps in antiracist teaching, and challenging the classics are just a few of the highlights of the 2020 SLJ Summit.

Librarians, educators, and the publishing community face new and difficult challenges. As stakeholders work toward solutions, School Library Journal is preparing for the SLJ Summit 2020, featuring speakers and sessions that offer inspiration, vital information, and practical takeaways for these times. With the theme of “Culture Shift,” the daylong virtual program supports that idea of creating an environment that fosters equity and closes the opportunity gap for children.

Attendees of the free Saturday, October 24, event can choose sessions from three concurrent tracks and hear keynote addresses from novelists Tommy Orange, and James McBride.

Orange, the author of There There, a 2019 Pulitzer Prize finalist,  has an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, who grew up in in Oakland, CA.

McBride—author of National Book Award-winning novel The Good Lord Bird and a National Humanities Medal recipient—will address attendees later in the afternoon.

But don’t worry if you miss McBride, or any of the other keynotes or sessions—they will be available to view on demand within an hour of their broadcast and anytime until January 24.

Session highlights include:

  • Antiracism: Next Steps
  • School Library Leadership 2020
  • Challenging the Classics
  • SEL and Trauma-Informed teaching
  • How to Start an Online Book Club
  • Building Community for Connection and Learning with Facing History and Ourselves

  • Empower Educators: Having Conversations About Race with First Book

In addition, hear from 2020 School Librarian of the Year Cicely Lewis, get follow up recommendations on the Reimagining Youth Librarianship Project with Linda Braun and Mega Subramaniam, and learn about serving readers with dyslexia in a discussion led by "Teen Librarian Toolbox" blogger Karen Jensen. Facilitated discussions will follow some panels, allowing attendees to discuss the information from the session with their peers and brainstorm practical takeaways.

There will be an author panel on coming of age graphic novels with Robin Ha (Almost American Girl), Tyler Feder (Dancing at the Pity Party), Ngozi Ukazu (Check! Please), and associate editor at The Nib Matt Lubchansky, and another on Latinx fiction featuring authors Aidan Thomas (Cemetery Boys), Raquel Vasquez Gilliland (Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything), Maya Motayne (Nocturna), Isabel Ibañez (Woven in Moonlight), and Claribel Ortega (Ghost Squad).

And, in a first-ever Summit reveal, we will announce SLJ's 2020 Best Books.

The SLJ Summit is sponsored by Mackin (Platinum Sponsor), Capstone, Gale, Junior Library Guild, and TLC (Gold Sponsors) and Bearport Publishing, Jump!, and Lerner (Silver Sponsors).

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Kara Yorio

Kara Yorio (, @karayorio) is news editor at School Library Journal.

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